Destination Type
May - September
Fishing Days
Why We Go
  • Fish one of the world's most remote and least pressured juvenile tarpon destinations
  • Maximize opportunities, as the lodge is only open during the very best tidal weeks of the season
  • Learn the techniques and skills demanded to hook and land tarpon
  • Target "juvenile" tarpon that can exceed 40 pounds, which are large baby tarpon standards
  • Enjoy a small group atmosphere, with a maximum of six anglers on site at a time

Isla del Sabalo or “Island of Tarpon”, is truly the frontier in world-class fly fishing for baby tarpon. Ranging in size from 5-to 30-plus pounds, these tarpon reside in environs of turtle grass flats and mangrove-lined lagoons, creeks and channels. The hallmark of this fishery are the gin-clear flats and the amazing network of backcountry lagoons and channels. These characteristics make this fishery an incredible rearing ground for resident baby tarpon. Whether you are sight casting to rolling tarpon on the flats or working the mangroves with a top-water pattern, fly fishing for tarpon at Isla del Sabalo is always exciting and well-suited to anglers that need little more than a humble base from which to pursue their sport. Easy to get to, inexpensive and well-suited to light tackle, this region is ideal for short trips or for longer adventures that combine two or more destinations.

Fishing Program

The fertile, mangrove-lined waters of Mexico’s northern Yucatan Peninsula are the most prolific juvenile tarpon fishery in the world. The fishing program is based on tides and weather conditions, and the lodge host coordinates with their guides to determine each day’s program based on optimizing both. Typically, anglers begin their fishing day while the sun is rising and fish through the afternoon, until 2:00 or 3:00 pm.

Isla del Sabalo guests fish two per angler out of spacious 18-foot pangas that are equipped with level casting decks. All fly fishing is conducted out of these stealthy, stable, and comfortable fishing boats. Quality fishing can be found within 15-minutes of the lodge but the fishery is vast and therefore longer runs with the boat are sometimes required. Most anglers prefer to fish 8- to 9-weight rods at Isla del Sabalo, but when weather conditions and/or size of fish dictate, a 9-weight rod is preferred. One aspect that makes this fishery a pure joy is the ability to pursue these fish with a floating line only.


The accommodations at Isla del Sabalo are simple and comfortable. The main lodge is beachside and faces the open ocean, allowing for cool ocean breezes while relaxing at the lodge. Guests stay in ocean-front cottages and each guest room is equipped with air-conditioning, fans, and a full private bath with hot and cold shower. There is a housekeeping service that cleans the room and replaces towels, bottled drinking water, cups, and bar soap each day. A unique feature of the property is the beach front “palapa”. This wonderful area is perfect for relaxing after a long day of chasing tarpon.

Meals are prepared at the dining palapa and served in an open air setting. Breakfast is served around 5:30 am. Staff arrives prior to make coffee, so early-risers can wake up before breakfast. Breakfast includes items such as fresh fruit, eggs, toast, pancakes, coffee, and juice. Lunches consist of sandwiches, fruit, snacks, sodas, and water and is taken in a cooler on the boat to be eaten while on the water. Dinners are served at the palapa each evening, and entrees include chicken, pork, or the catch-of-the-day, fish, shrimp or even lobster! The lodge can accommodate most dietary restrictions with advance notice. All drinking water is bottled, and ice is made from purified water. All non-alcoholic beverages (soda, juice, water) are included in the lodge package. Alcoholic beverages are available, but not included.


Day 1: Arrive Merida and overnight

Day 2: Transfer to lodge around mid-day

Days 3 – 8: Six full days guided fishing

Day 9: Depart lodge

Rates & Details

2024 Rate: Per person based on double occupancy

  • 7 night/6 day package: $4,895

Included: Accommodations and meals at the lodge, guided fishing, non-alcoholic beverages, guest taxes, fishing licenses, Internet access, ground transfers to/from the Merida airport.

Not Included: Airfare, meals and accommodations in Merida, alcoholic beverages, staff & guide gratuities, phone service, laundry service, fly fishing gear and tackle.

Species: Juvenile tarpon

Season: May - September

Capacity: 6 anglers

Fly Water Q&A

Who is best suited to this destination? Intermediate to advanced saltwater anglers with good casting skills are best suited to Isla del Sabalo. Just because the fish are juvenile tarpon does not mean they are push-overs and good casting will pay off with higher catch rates!

Where is the lodge? The lodge is in the small commercial fishing village of Isla Arena, Mexico approximately 60 miles north of Campeche on the Yucatan Peninsula.

How do I get there? Guests fly into Merida International Airport where the outfitter will meet you and transfer you approximately 2.5 hours to the lodge by air-conditioned van.

When should I go? Tarpon are happiest when the conditions are hot, humid and calm. The best time of year for Isla del Sabalo is May – September. When temperatures rise, oxygen content in the water goes down and the tarpon start to roll and breath air. That makes them easier to find and content to chase flies.

How will I fish? Anglers fish two per boat. The 18-foot pangas are clean with level casting decks and lean bars built specifically for fly fishing. All fishing is done from the boat. The guides cruise open water flats looking for fish or explore a multitude of small estuaries and rivers that the tarpon is known to frequent.

Is there wade fishing? No.

Where will I fish? They fish the mangrove-lined estuaries, creeks, and off-shore flats south of Isla Arena all the way to Campeche.

How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds? In general, runs to the fishing grounds are anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes. In some cases, you may find fish 15 minutes from the lodge.

What type(s) of fish will I catch? Juvenile tarpon that average 5-to 25-pounds are the name of the game at Isla del Sablao. There are some chances for snook and barracuda. Larger juveniles in the 25-to 40-pound range are encountered every season.

How many fish will I catch? This fishery rewards good fly casters. Fly anglers that have no trouble reaching distances of 70+ feet in the wind will excel at Isla del Sabalo. On a good day with good casters, anglers can hook double digit numbers of tarpon and may land about half of them. Baby tarpon have extremely hard mouths and it is not about how many fish you land, but rather how many fish you send jumping into the air. Also, even though the lodge is only open during the very best months and tide windows, the area is extremely large and there are days when the tarpon just cannot be found. For this reason, it should still be considered a high risk/high reward destination. We have experienced truly incredible tarpon action here, the likes of which may be unmatched anywhere else on the planet, but we have also had to come home with our tails between our legs. If you are up for the adventure and are looking for home-run potential, Isla Del Sabalo is the baby tarpon frontier and a slice of “real” Mexico.

Will I see other anglers? No. The only other fly anglers you will see are those from Isla del Sablao. This is one of the things that make this destination so special. At times you may see Mexican commercial fishermen, but they are not targeting tarpon.

What are the guides like? The guides live and work in Campeche and make the trip north by boat about 60 miles. They are very knowledgeable about their waters and the needs of fly anglers regarding boat positioning and spotting fish. The have a lot of experience working with fly fisherman but may not always offer help with things like knot tying or removing fish unless you ask them. The guides speak very limited English. They can provide good fishing direction in English. In general, they can give you help that may sound like this, “Fish coming. 60-feet. Cast 2 o’clock now!”

What are the physical demands? There are no special physical demands for this trip. Anglers with good balance and good casting technique will do the best.

Are there any special skills required? Sometimes lengthy casts will help you reach fish when the boat is still, and fish are cruising. If you can quickly and accurately reach distances of 70-feet or more, you will simply have more access to cruising tarpon.

Does the lodge provide equipment? Anglers need to provide all their own equipment.

What is your favorite setup for the trip? 9-foot, 8- to 9-weight fast action rods are ideal. Weight forward saltwater floating lines are perfect for this venue. Reels need to have strong and “saltwater-safe,” sealed drag systems.

What are the top flies? Megalopsicle (in orange, olive, purple/black), Puglisi Tarpon Streamer, TCL Special, Morrish Tequila Popper. All flies should be on sturdy #1/0 or #2/0 hooks.

What are the options if weather conditions become challenging? If high winds or storms create unsafe or unfishable conditions, guests will return or wait at the lodge until the foul weather passes.

What is a typical day like? Guests normally wake up between 5:00 – 5:30AM where coffee is waiting under the main dining palapa. Breakfast is typically served between 5:45 and 6:00AM. After eating, guest will meet their guides at the beach in front of the lodge and depart for a full day of fishing. Lunch is eaten during a mid-day break while on the water. Around 3:00PM, anglers will arrive back at the lodge. Between 4:00 – 7:00PM, anglers can enjoy snacks, cocktails, and a siesta before dinner that evening.

What is the general vibe, atmosphere, and style of the lodge? The lodge is very casual, comfortable, and basic.

Is there an on-site owner, manager, or other point-person at the lodge? The owner is Marco Ruz. He is often on site looking after the operation. Marco is a skilled tarpon angler and is an invaluable resource for anglers on site that have questions about targeting them. The lodge manager speaks only limited English but does a fantastic job of looking after any need that may arise.

Where do we eat, and what are the meals like? Home-cooked Mexican meals are prepared and served in a central dining palapa. Seafood is a staple at Isla del Sabalo, as is traditional Mexican food with rice, ceviche, empanadas, tacos, beans, guacamole, and poultry.

What is the alcohol policy? Beers and margaritas are available at the lodge for purchase. You pay your bar tab on the last night of the trip. Guests are also welcome to bring any bottles of liquor or wine they would like as well.

Where do we stay, and what are the accommodations like? The accommodations are very simple, clean, and rustic but remain comfortable and satisfactory for a fishing-based trip. Guests stay in small beach side cabanas (two guests per cabana) with private bathrooms, air conditioning, hot water, and fans.

Is there internet and/or cell service? The lodge has an intermittent satellite Internet connection, but it is unreliable. At times, it can be suitable for emails and texts. It is doubtful that you will receive a cell signal here but check with your carrier’s Yucatan Peninsula coverage. This is a remote place and if you need to stay plugged in, this may not be the optimal destination for you.

Are there other activities? Additional activities are few and far between. This is a trip best suited for hardcore fly anglers that want to fish every day.

Are there any other expenses? Accommodations in Merida on your arrival day, meals in Merida, alcoholic beverages at the lodge, staff, and guide gratuities.

Do I need a visa? No.

Are there any health concerns, dangers, or annoyances? The summer months on the Yucatan can yield some mosquitoes and biting black flies. Bugs will be most active immediately following a rainstorm or when the wind dies. Bringing along a good bug repellent and long pants/sleeves is a good idea. There can be intermittent power during storm events, which can equate to a temporary loss in air conditioning units. This is typically very brief, and the lodge has backup generators for situations such as this.

We recommend that guests always consult with the U.S. Department of State and the Center for Disease Control websites for general travel information and guidelines.

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